Football today has become a symbol of glitz and glamour. Swag, Glitterazzi, Skill and Style are some of the paramount features in a modern day footballer. In many ways, David Beckham was the trendsetter. In fact the former Manchester United hero can be regarded as the Kate Moss of Football.
Footballers today with à la mode tattoos, eye-pleasing step-overs and delicious rabonas attract media and viewer attention. Often some hardworking competent gentlemen are neglected in this battle of trendy, galloping and super talented footballers. James Milner is a prototype of the handful of footballers left in this rare breed.
A polymath in the truest sense, James Milner, has come a long way from being a prosaic ball boy at Leeds United to being one of most reliable, versatile and tireless professional in the Premier League. James Milner is perhaps one of a kind in a day and age where the modern footballer is a celebrity star; the last of a few left. The few who do not deliberately participate in social media chatter or seem to be openly involved in the hunt for headlines. The Yorkshire man made his debut at an early age but has never gone through what the young footballers go through today. Milner was part of that period where discipline reigned supreme at the club. James is the last of the few who follow the older ways and worship football as the supreme power.
Many goals scoring poachers, offensive maestros, midfield generals, defensive pillars and amazing net-minders have blessed the English Top Flight. Milner is none of those things. But the Englishman will be known by many fans as a Premier League icon for what Milner has brought to the game. Milner’s meteoric rise as a legend is nothing short of a saga that must be re-lived and re-witnessed by every Premier League enthusiast.
Where it all began..
James Milner’s knack for Sports at an early age introduced him to three completely diverse genres of physical activities: Cricket, Football and long distance running. A highly qualified student in his class, whose flair was supported by 11 GCSEs in his studies, was a wonder kid in with tantamount finesse in physical activities. The young boy was a vital part of the Yorkshire schools cricket team. The little James was also crowned as the district champion in 100 meters sprint for two straight years. At this point his dreams had no bounds; every sport Milner ever tried saw him achieve accolades in that sport.
Being a Leeds-born, Milner always supported Leeds United and the very first memory he had of watching them was Leeds United’s FA Youth Cup win in 1993. He later became Leeds United ball boy. At the age of 10, he was admitted into the Leeds youth academy and continued to emerge as a young, brave all round conqueror. His role model was Leeds-born Alan Smith, who was then a striker for Leeds United. Milner claimed that training with Smith brought him through a process of learning, because Smith had done what Milner aspired to do; that is, to come through the academy and play for first team. Milner’s rapid rise among the ranks saw him being taken as a direct trainee for Leeds after school.
Milner’s entrance into the English football canon transpired on 10 November 2002 when he substituted Jason Wilcox in Leeds’ match with West Ham for the final six minutes. He began record-making right from his arrival in the football scene. The appearance made him the second youngest player to play in the Top flight at the age of 16 years and 309 days. On December 22, 2002, James scored his debut goal for the Elland Road tenants, in the process becoming the youngest scorer to score in the league. However, the record was later broken by Everton’s James Vaughan.
The midfielder once again received critical appreciation and applause for his brilliant goal against Chelsea. Milner received substantial recognition worldwide after he scored a screamer against the Blues, deceiving Marcel Desailly, a veteran defender. The teenager created acres of space between himself and the Desailly with a deft first touch and with some elegant footwork to belt out a picturesque curler from 18 yards away. Chelsea were shaken. Elland Road was stirred. It was a moment that declared: “The name’s Milner. James Milner.” The emerging starlet played 22 times for the Whites in the 2002-03 season and also signed a contract extension.
A legendary career..
The 2003-04 season saw him move to Swindon Town on loan for a month in order to gain some much needed first team experience. Even though he always rode high on confidence, was brave to take risks and had an undying desire, it was essential for him to gain the experience of being a regular starter in the team. He returned to the Whites and became an essential player in the team making 35 appearances that season. However, off-field incidents saw the club and the players gain a negative image in the public eye and to add more to the misery, Leeds plunged themselves deep in financial troubles with debts amounting over £100 million. The tensions off the pitch had adverse effects on the pitch as the team failed to pull themselves out of the deep hole and succumbed to relegation.
“Someone else’s loss is another man’s gain.” Leeds’ relegation meant that other big fishes would jump in the pond to prize away their top assets. James Milner was the best emerging player and teams like Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton enquired about him round the clock in order to strike a deal first. However, Leeds hierarchy insisted that Milner won’t be sold to cover the losses. Ultimately, The Whites further nosedived into a financial tailspin and the management was compelled to sell Milner at a price of £3.6m. Despite being dejected that he had to bid farewell to the childhood club, which he once supported, the Englishman was ready to do what was beneficial to the club. He moved to Newcastle United: a strong and brutal attacking team with a topnotch squad.
On his move to Newcastle United, Milner sought a new role model in Alan Shearer. The legendary striker would not only inspire the young Milner mind but also act as a biblical figure to teach him to keep his feet on the ground while media showered James with constant attention and praise. Milner made his Toons debut against Middlesbrough on August 18, 2004. Usually occupying the left space so far in his career, Bobby Robson played him on the right. Milner was questioned by the media if he was happy to play on the right to which he replied that he simply had no preference and was happy to contribute in any way possible. This was the first instance that proved how devout and focused was he about the game. This statement was proof that despite the hot teenage blood flowing in his veins, he was not only versatile but was a diligent professional who put his team ahead of him.
His debut goal for Newcastle came against West Bromwich Albion. However, after the sack of Bobby Robson, a father figure to Milner at Leeds, the Englishman spent most of his time warming the bench for the Toons under the chaperonage of Graeme Souness. James hardly made much impact with the ball as his playing time was often restricted to only substitute appearances.
James Milner was loaned to Aston Villa for the 2005-06 season as a part of a transfer deal that saw Nolberto Solano move to Newcastle United from Villa. Manager David O’Leary insisted that he was eager to work with the sensation and help him improve his game. Milner was involved in 33 games that term and his season was seen as a major positive, getting praises for his standard of play and dedication. Milner was pleased with his progress and even admitted that he would be open to moving to the Villa Park permanently because of the probability of being a regular starter, an assurance he never got from Souness at Newcastle. O’Leary also publicly supported the notion of signing Milner permanently.
In June 2006, Glenn Roeder replaced Graeme Souness as the Newcastle coach and appreciated Milner’s talent more than Souness. Villa started to face cash troubles and James’ move looked even more distant, especially after David O’Leary’s departure. The finances of Aston Villa were taken over by American billionaire Randy Lerner and the deal for Milner was resurrected. It was said that a £4 million move was accepted but the deal fell through at the last minute, prompting Milner to return to his parent club.
Milner was graciously accepted by the St. James Park faithful upon his return despite him expressing the desire to stay at Villa. For the 2006-07 season, Milner booked his place as an undisputed starter in the team. Regardless of the sloppy league performances, Newcastle stood their ground in the UEFA Cup, thanks to dominant performances from Milner that took through the group stages. Rumors started doing grounds about an eminent January exit but the sand settled soon as Milner and Roeder quashed these speculations stopping a sandstorm of conjectures that would have followed. During the season he scored some vital and beautiful goals, namely one against Manchester United, a scrumptious goal struck like a sweet chord on a guitar from 23 meters. The 2006-07 was very important in Milner’s rise to prominence. While Newcastle United had a mixed season, Milner’s true worth was being noticed by some of the sport’s finest geniuses. The 20 year old was opening new realms of possibilities as he was easily able to switch and re-adjust to any position he was asked to play.
In January itself he signed a new contract that would keep him in the Black and White stripes till 2011. Sam Allardyce took over the reins at Newcastle and Milner signed a new contract with improved wages and a bigger role in Big Sam’s team. In October 2007, James scored Newcastle’s 500th Top flight goal in a 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. A foot injury later that season saw him spend time on sidelines for weeks and gave time to introspect about his career. Reports emerged that Liverpool were hoping to prize away Newcastle’s high-quality asset. However, it was Aston Villa who signed the 22 year old in August 2008.
With the £12 million transfer to Villa, it seemed Milner had finally kicked his career back on track. During his second spell at Villa Park he improved the most and made a lasting impact. Martin O’Neil gave Milner 92 appearances as Aston manager and Milner made his international debut during his reign. The Yorkshire man has admitted that he felt the “most settled” upon returning to Aston Villa, perhaps because for the first time in his playing career, he had the same manager providing him counsel for two successive seasons. By the age of 23, James had already played for 13 coaches and with constant change in styles, philosophies and ideologies, Milner never felt at home at a club. His words reflected in his form and performances. Milner excelled as a central midfielder, playing with novelty players around him. It included a league cup run, resulting in a loss in the final against Manchester United, however, his outstanding form helped him get some seriously striking numbers managing to get four goals in the six games and two assists.
Gareth Barry was a player who had a big influence on Milner during his days at Vila. However, with transfer of Barry to Manchester City in 2009, Milner took the central position and became a key cog for Villa in midfield. The duo not only forged a formidable partnership but followed each other’s path as well. Milner followed Barry’s path as in Summer 2010, the Englishman showed desire to leave Villa and as soon as the word spread on the market, Manchester City jumped to sign the midfielder. Finally, the move materialized on paper as Milner moved to the Etihad stadium for a fee of £26 million. Despite not having the best numbers in a Villa shirt, he was able to successfully strike the chord in the hearts of the fans with his hearty performances.
If you think Milner’s springboard to stardom has already been encapsulated, you are in for the actual meal now. This was just the hors d’oeuvre. It would be a sin not to narrate on Milner’s excellent body of work at Manchester City. Milner and his former team-mate Gareth Barry took a lot of stick when they wanted to join City, accused of greed and willingness to sit on the bench for a big pay package. Milner’s City debut came against Liverpool in which he assisted his partner from Villa days, Gareth Barry. James’ first goal for the Citizens came against Leicester City in the FA Cup as this win proved to be the foundation for an FA Cup triumph in the 2010-11 season.
Manchester derbies are always electric and a spectacle to the eye. Recent years suggest that Manchester City have been dominant on all fronts but this era started to begin during the 2010. Milner will fondly be remembered for providing two assists and orchestrating the City midfield in a 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011. Everyone fondly remembers the Agueroooooo! moment, the goal that announced the arrival of Manchester City in the Premier League, that made City a de facto member in Premier League’s elite. While the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany heaped praises, many failed to notice Milner was an unheard voice who silently excelled at his game. Milner managed 24 league appearances in a Manchester City side which won their first Premier League in 2011/12, even in a team of superstars at the peak of their powers.
Mancini’s tenure at City came to an end after not winning the title in 2013, and also because of declining relationships with a number of players. Carlos Tevez refuted from playing under the Italian boss, while the likes of Aguero, Joe Hart and Yaya were left irritated by Mancini’s methods and attitude. While the big egos clashed, the modest Milner waited for the chaos to settle. It was under Mancini that James truly began to get recognized all over the pitch for his talent. In fact, Mancini even started him as a false nine up front in the 2012/13 season.
This was not the first instance where he put the team ahead of himself and certainly not the last. In 2014, when Manuel Pellegrini took over the reins at the City of Manchester Stadium, the Chilean found out how faithful and devoted Milner was to the team. In a match against Crystal Palace, City’s blazing strike force of Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic were injured. With a selection headache, Pellegrini chose Milner as the aspirin i.e. the Englishman was tasked with leading the City frontline. Milner, who is a core midfield specialist, was not only glad to help his team in a bizarre role but also managed to tuck in an assist in the match. This virtue of always being a team player has made him the gentleman he is today and was the reason why Brendan Rodgers wanted to sign him on a free transfer at Liverpool, even when he was 30 years old.
Milner’s contract ran down at the end of the 2014-15 season that saw City lift their second Premier League trophy, thanks to the Gerrard slip that dethroned Liverpool from the top spot. There are a handful of players who can run their contract down and still expect love and affection of the fans. Milner is still a well respected ex-player at the club. The suggestion that James was merely a squad filler during his time at Etihad is absolutely erroneous. On the contrary, in two title-winning campaigns he played a major role, making 26 league appearances in 2011-12 and 31 in 2013-14. Not many non-Manchester United English players can boast about having two league winner’s medals since the inception of the Premier League.
‘Free’ isn’t a concept readily associated with football, particularly in this age of exorbitant opulence. Yet the Bosman transfer is a reminder that frugality can exist in such a moneyed game. Free transfers are generally celebrated as the only risk-free alternative, with salary and sign-on fees restricted as the only financial investment. Those outlays are no small change but they are moderated by the fact that the previous club is not being paid a single penny. Milner’s free transfer was one of the most successful free transfers in England’s Top Division till date. Free transfers are never seen as the solution, the jigsaw’s correct key. In fact, they’re bolt-ons at best but James’s arrival at Melwood was different.
Donning the iconic No.7 jersey which was once sported by Reds legends like Kenny Dalglish and Luis Suarez led to the obvious unfavorable comparisons, although not a direct replacement (nobody could do that), he was the closest in terms of position, experience and knowledge the club would come to filling the void left by Steven Gerrard. But Milner is the epitome of the incandescent, consummate pro. Whether the fans made uncomplimentary sounds, he’d never heard them. And, if he did, they wouldn’t influence him in any way. Milner surprised everyone by raising himself above and beyond the role of dependable lieutenant we ‘d envisaged for him. A quiet hero. He may not score the Roy of the Rovers winning goal like Gerrard, but he’ll probably be the one whipping the cross for it.
Upon joining Liverpool, the Milner magic unfolded in its most scintillating form. He was named team vice-captain within a period of just two months of his arrival at Anfield. Milner’s debut goal for the Reds was against his former side Aston Villa in a 3-2 win over the Villians. Milner finished his first Anfield season scoring seven goals and activated unreserved ability down the right.
Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool management in 2015 and one of the biggest tasks he had was to clear the unproductive deadwood in the team. The likes of Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Lucas Leiva, Adam Bogdan and others were in the list to be culled. Klopp’s image as an affable eccentric means that the brutal slaughter of the deadwood of Liverpool secretly went unnoticed, and many thought Milner would be a victim of Klopp’s willingness to upgrade. After a duty tour as the left back, Milner won Klopp’s trust and respect and in the process established himself as a first choice pick in the team.
Milner’s second season saw the Leeds-born break many records. His goal against Manchester City was the record broken for a player to play in most matches sans defeat and scoring in. Was there more convincing evidence of grandeur than being marginally better than Darius Vassell? It was Vassell’s record that Milner broke first and has now extended having scored in most number of the games in the Premier League without losing. Milner had now scored in 48 games without losing that game, a feat in itself. While Liverpool were still finding the right formula to hit the upper notches of the top four, Milner being a veteran had found a new dimension to his game.
The 2017-18 season saw the Merseysiders turn into a menacing, venomous beast who would swallow their opponents and spit their bones. Milner continued to write his name in the record books for fun. The second record that wasn’t really broken but paralleled was of the highest number of assists in a season with 8 assists in the UEFA Champions League. The eighth assist came against Manchester City in the quarter finals as he teed up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his goal. Though, he was able to shatter this record as he went on to provide the nine assists that Champions League campaign, the ninth assist coming in the first leg of the semi-final, squaring off Roberto Firmino for his goal. The Reds fell short to Real Madrid in the final but Reds’ campaign was a sign that grander things are about to happen.
Milner’s 50th goal in the Premier League came in November 2018 as he went on to score in a cagey stalemate against Arsenal. Milner made his 500th appearance in the Premier League in an exulting win over Bournemouth. Milner’s fortune hit the golden circuits as he has now gone onto win the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. Looking at the 2019-2020 season, if a certain pandemic didn’t halt the footballing season, Liverpool would have been crowned as the League champions.
Milner extended his contract with Liverpool till 2022. Despite being 34, the Reds are more than delighted to have Milner around for as many years as possible. Why? Always places the team in front of itself, giving every game a minimum of 100 per cent commitment. Although James may not supply the Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino fireworks but he gives something what truest of fans want: reverence for the game and highest-caliber sportsmanship.
What was James Milner footballer like…
Milner was always a hard-working player with tireless running and dedication that compensated for any lack of technical skill. Undoubtedly, at Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester City he was a consistent and strong player. He’s taken his quality to the next stage in the Liverpool shirt, however, earning the nicknames, Mr. Reliable. and Mr. Consistency.
Milner is widely praised for his versatility, consistency and productivity. Although some attacking players have to be accommodated or their flaws are often hidden by those around them, there are no such concerns for Milner due his industrious work-rate and a high degree of professionalism. But there’s more to Milner’s game than just “standing in the faces of players,” and with 89 assists, he now has more Premier League assists than Paul Scholes, David Silva, and Thierry Henry.
The Liverpool general is efficiently productive. Whether turning back inside to deliver an in-swinger or flying down the flank and tossing the ball in, he is so proficient that he can cross with either foot. James also has a knack for cute reverse passes inside and around the penalty area that bring team-mates to the byline. His execution from the set pieces is always accurate Milner’s 13 penalty goals out of 15 penalties in the Top division strongly testify for his supremacy.
The versatility of the 34 year old makes him a fantasy of a coach, but he manages to escape the label ‘Jack of all Trades’ that has dogged other players. Milner can not only play in various positions, he can also adapt to the football style his team demands. There are not many players who could play direct football under Martin O’Neill, the measured possession play under Pellegrini and the counter-attacking Gegen pressing under Klopp in one career. The durability is testimony to Milner’s expertise, and the 34-year-old proved to be the best player in Liverpool in terms of physical fitness by winning the lactate exam on the first day of aerobic endurance training, giving youngsters a run for their money.
James Milner has shown to the upcoming generation of footballers that putting your head down and working hard alone is enough to earn the respects of true football fans. The generation wants to learn more about players like James Milner who, thanks to consistency in their personal lives, have managed to maintain the longevity of their careers, superior fitness and prime ability levels. James emphasized the fact that his strict smoking and alcohol prohibitions allowed him to thrive at the highest football level. Work horses like Milner should be more often idolized than the flashy Neymars or the uninterested Bales.
What are the moments we remember James Milner for…
The coming of Milner into English Football
Milner made his Leeds debut at the age of 16 years and 309 days becoming one of the youngest players to appear in a competitive game. However, the real entry in the English football was when he notched his debut goal. Milner was at the time the youngest player to score in the Premier League at just 16 years and 360 days. This, too, is no small feat. Playing at Elland Road for Leeds is too intimidating for seasoned eyes. It was a Leeds team playing European football, and blessed by the talents of Viduka and Kewell. During troublesome times, James Milner was the player who manager Peter Reid believed in and turned to. The team’s spine looked fragile after a summer that saw the Peacocks lose captain Rio Ferdinand, players like Robbie Keane, Fowler, Lee Bowyer and Paul Robinson. It was a young James Milner entrusted to bring the spark to the depleted team.
A tad better than Darius Vassell
Darius Vassell, the legendary Aston Villa striker held a unique record to his name for years. Vassell held the record for scoring in the most matches without suffering defeat. The ex-Leicester City man had scored in 46 matches and not suffered a defeat. On 19th March, 2017, James scored against his former side Manchester City in a 1-1 draw that entitled him to climb over Vassell in the record books. Milner has scored in 48 matches without suffering the bitterness of a defeat. To break it down in simple words, there have been 48 games where he has scored and his team have avoided defeat. This is a solid evidence on how decisive Milner can be in crucial games.
There were times when the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Mesut Ozil, Cesc Fabregas, Ryan Giggs dominated the charts for assists in Champions League as well as domestic competitions. James Milner is simply not a creator operating in the middle of the pitch and laying delicious passes to the strikers to feed on, instead, when deployed in midfield he lies deep as a defensive midfielder. Occasionally, we have seen him operate as a full back. In 2017-18, James Milner shattered all records and provided nine assists throughout the 2017-18 UCL Campaign. People would remember Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s 25 yard bullet strike against Man City but not many can recall that Milner was the one who laid the ball for the ex-Arsenal man. The assist saw the Yorkshire man level most number of assists in a single Champions League campaign.
Then came the semi final against Roma. The Reds led 4-0 after 67 minutes in the first leg. A corner was awarded to Liverpool and James Milner was the “chosen one” to deliver the cross into the box. Milner put in a cross with perfect speed and whip which found the towering head of Roberto Firmino as Alisson watched the ball go past him into the net. Liverpool lead 5-0, but more importantly, Milner broke the record for most assists.
Appearance Number 500
In December 2018, James Milner featured in his 500th Premier League game of his career, becoming the 13thplayer to do so in the Premier League era. He currently stands sixth in all time highest appearances, considering that his new contract runs till 2022, he still has enough of gas left in the tank to climb up the table.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to field a whole squad of youth players with Neil Critchley in charge of Liverpool’s FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town caused much debate. Whilst most senior players from Liverpool were abroad enjoying holidays in warm climates like Miami and the Maldives, Milner stayed in Merseyside to help out the young players of the club ahead of the Anfield game. He was then in the locker room, after practicing with the team the day before the game, to give advice and motivation to the squad. He had also requested Critchley’s permission for this. This is just a mere indication of how humble and down to Earth Milner is.
How other premier league professionals view James Milner…
Klopp on when asked that there is no other player like his No.7, and the boss told “No, that’s why he has [played] like 7,680 Premier League games! That’s true [that he’s unique]. Exceptional, exceptional. It just sets the benchmark, that you’re 34 and doing things like this. Obviously, age is no issue.”
Klopp: “James Milner? The complete football player. The perfect professional. A machine.”
Klopp: “His attitude is outstanding. Millie is a sports guy, in each sport he is doing he is brilliant. Without Millie it wouldn’t have been possible. His kind of a little bit dirty dressing-room talks, I cannot do, these things you say in the dressing room that I am not allowed to say in public. That’s the last little kick and that’s nice.”
Jordan Henderson: “Some people might say I’m old at 28, but I look at someone like James Milner. He’s 34 and playing like he is 25 or something.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “I understand. I’m Milner’s No1 fan. Find me a more complete English player. There are players who’re better technically, yes. Quicker players, yes. Players who head better, yes. But show me one who does all the things Milner does well. There isn’t one.”
Dani Alves: “I have faced many, but the most annoying was James Milner. He follows you forward and follows you backwards. It’s very difficult because he attacks you and defends you, and then attacks you and defends you again.”
Alan Shearer: “You can’t give this boy that amount of time and space to whip balls in because he has got the ability to put it in that six-yard box and a forward will get on the end of it. He was absolutely magnificent getting forward and it was a masterclass in passing and cross.”
What does James Milner say about James Milner…
“It’s not like I’m against alcohol. It’s just a decision I made, and if you’ve never had it, you don’t miss it. I’ve been drenched in champagne a few times over my career. I might have a drink if England win the World Cup. That’s one moment where I might.”
“It’s all been a bit of a rush, but I think that happens when you make your debut so soon after leaving school. You’ve had this dream, and suddenly you’re doing it, and everything happens very fast and hardly slows down.”
“I never really got that chance at Manchester City and developed into a utility player. Playing in all the positions has made me a better player because it’s not easy to do that. Understanding the game has made me a more rounded player as well.”
“Individual players don’t win titles no matter how good you are as a player. The best players in the world need a team around them. It is about the team, and we are playing for the badge.”
“When I’m sat at 45 and retired, I want to look back and see what I’ve done and that I’ve played games rather than having come to the end of my career and tailed off.”
“I’ve always dreamt of being a footballer. You only get one shot at a career like this, and I want to be the best professional I can. Anything I can do that means I can get the best out of my ability is what I’ll try and do.”
“You can look at every game, some where I’ve been a defensive player and others where I’ve had an impact.”
James Milner trivia..
During his time at Manchester City, the Yorkshireman won every domestic trophy available – the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield.
Milner has been sent off only once in his career, seeing red for a last-man challenge on West Bromwich Albion striker Shane Long in a 2012 game at the Hawthorns.
James and his wife Amy Fletcher run a charitable organisation named ‘The James Milner Foundation’ which assists in preservation of health and advancement of education among young people in UK through financial support.
The England international won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 2010, seeing off competition from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Joe Hart.
Andrew Devine, a lifelong Liverpool fan, was confined to a wheelchair that needed 24-hour treatment due to injuries sustained during the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy. During visits to Melwood, Devine had previously met Milner before the former England international ensured Liverpool’s open top bus stopped outside his family home during the club’s triumph parade after winning last season’s Champions League final.
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